Down 3-4 to Lebanon’s Garrett Childers in the 285-pound class at the Bolivar Double Duals on Thursday, Dec. 5, Jack Roweton didn’t seem to let anyone know his plan.
Late in the match, the two wrestlers returned to center, visibly tired from the lengthy contest. Roweton assumed the lower half of the referee’s position.
As the official whistled to resume the match, Roweton struck, shedding Childers’ hold and flipping his opponent onto his stomach, picking up 2 points in the reversal and holding on for the come-from-behind win.
Bolivar, which wasn’t able to field wrestlers to fill two weight classes, dropped its dual against Lebanon 42-29. The Liberators won 64-18 over Kickapoo at the meet.
“We’d said, ‘Jack, there’s plenty of time,’ Bolivar coach Jeff Davis said, recalling his words to the wrestler during the match. “There wasn’t plenty of time, but for him, there was. That was a fun match.”
Roweton has experience in the sport but didn’t compete last year, Davis said. The junior, who features on Bolivar’s football team, is quickly improving, Davis said.
“It was Lebanon’s starting right tackle versus Jack, who is our starting guard,” Davis said, “so it was that kind of a football matchup. Jack is green and sometimes he makes mistakes, but we’re going to keep plugging away. He fought hard.”
The Liberators capped a three-day stretch of competition two days later Saturday, Dec. 7, with a home tournament. Bolivar won 55-20 over Waynesville, 43-33 over Park Hill South, 41-33 over Osage and fell 36-24 to Kearney.
“The state tournament is a three-day grind, so we’re preparing, not by accident, for things like that,” Davis said.
The Liberators ended their home tournament second. Davis said his objective had been to see competition that challenged the team as it already looks ahead to the postseason.
“We changed our tournament up a little bit,” he said. “We brought in some better teams to push us. Kearney’s been a trophy team the last 12 to 15 years. We added some of those teams in, and it made a big difference in the quality of our tournament. We want to continue that. We want to see good people, and we want to get pushed. It’s all about preparing for February.”
Bolivar took second at its district meet last year, advancing a school-record nine wrestlers to the state meet in Columbia, where the Liberators claimed second overall and now-senior Hayden Burks won a gold medal.
Burks, wrestling in the 170-pound class, finished the week undefeated. Junior 220-pounder Drayton Huchteman, who took second at state last year, also finished the early-season stretch with a perfect record.
Others visibly struggled, though, Davis pointed out. Veteran wrestler Andrew Bunn, wrestling in the 182-pound class, watched a match against Lebanon slip away Thursday. Bunn lost in a pin 2:38 into the contest.
Other Liberators are still finding their place on the scale, Davis said. Wrestlers Riley Beckman, Canyon Cunningham and Logan Rice all faced heavier opponents at the meet while waiting to drop weight classes.
“When they come down, that's going to help us,” Davis said. “Hopefully, by Christmastime, we’re where we need to be. This is getting us ready to go compete with teams like Monett and try to go win a state team title.”